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Church offers practical help to youth

ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE: Paul Frempong speaks to an audience on today's youth violence

THE ISSUE of knife crime among young people remains a major issue of concern in all sectors of the black community – including the church.

Contrary to public opinion, there are gang members, as well as victims of knife crime, including those who become fatalities, who have Christian parents. With this in mind, Paul Frempong, who is co-founder of the Boys 2 Men Ministry (B2MM), a youth worker at his church and who currently works with young offenders in his day job, recently embarked on a tour, facilitated by B2MM to share with the church the reality of gang and knife crime.

He told The Voice:

“It is evident a lot of parents are concerned about their children being involved in gangs and knife crime.

"I thought it would be timely to do a tour and break down the law behind gang and knife crime and break down why church kids might want to join a gang.”

Frempong visited five churches along with two parents who had lost their children to knife or gang crime - Mark Prince, founder of the Kiyan Prince Foundation, and Yvonne Lawson, who runs the Godwin Lawson foundation.

Church audiences listened to a two-hour presentation, in which Frempong talked about particular incidences of gun and knife crime and used case studies of young men raised in church, currently serving prison sentences for carrying knives, as well as church children who had been victims.

Prince and Lawson shared their stories of losing a child to knife crime.

“The parents were very appreciative of us sharing the information,” Frempong revealed.

During the Q&A session, parents wanted to know what they should do if they found their child with weapons, or saw them selling drugs. When asked his view on why some young people join gangs and carry knives, Frempong said there were numerous reasons including poverty, a lack of opportunity and poor educational achievement. He also cited a lack of male role models and fathers in the lives of teenage boys, which has become clear on his visits to prisons.

“The older members mentor these kids, and exploit that, and get them involved in selling drugs and guns,” he said.

Despite the doom and gloom that pervades the issue, Frempong believes the church can – and should – work to make a difference and that more should consider running mentoring programmes or partner with local groups as well as run summer programmes and provide support to lone parents.

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